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Coronavirus in New York City, Part 1

Who’s going to pay the rent?

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ASTORIA, New York City- When I read the news it seems as if the entire city of New York is stricken with coronavirus pandemonium. But when I go outside in the streets it doesn’t seem any different than any other day. I go to the coffee house and it’s still full. Trader Joe’s is so packed it’s hard to get into on any weekend of the year. Sure, some of the shelves in the supermarkets are a little barer, but that’s about it…

Other than the the people in the streets mocking the elbow touch handshake.

But this is probably set to change. Everything is being shut down throughout the city and the moral mob is out doing what it does best: controlling people’s actions through public shaming. “Staying home saves lives,” is the message, and people will soon be guilt tripped into not going outside.

I wonder where these warriors are every flu season when upwards of 60,000 to 80,000 people are killed in the USA alone? They don’t seem to give a shit about at risk populations then.

So far, this particular iteration of coronavirus has swept through some of the most populated parts of the world, leaving around 4,500 dead. That’s really not too many. But the fear mongering continues, with even respected publications claiming that 1.7 million people could die in the USA … From what we’ve seen in East Asia, that’s very, very unlikely.

We now know who Covid-19 is dangerous for. But rather than providing targeted protective services for those groups directly we are spreading a web of fear and guilt throughout entire societies, watering down what we can do by including everyone in the risk zone.

We also know that 99.4 to 99.6% (or more) of people who contract Covid-19 will recover. For patients over 80 in South Korea who showed enough symptoms to be tested, the recovery rate is 92%.

The below graph is interesting because it shows the infection rate disparity between South Korea, who does wide scale testing, and Italy, who only tests people with symptoms bad enough for someone to go and see a doctor.

Coronavirus by age

Nearly 60% of coronavirus cases in South Korea were found to be in people under the age of 50. In Italy, it was around 20%. If we can assume that the virus acts the same in both populations, which it seems to, there are a whole lot of people in Italy (at least 40% of all infections) who are positive but have not been tested and therefore not counted in the death rate. This means that Italy’s info cannot be regarded as accurate as it doesn’t include a representative number of infections that produced mild or no symptoms. The same can be said of the USA, who until recently was not even testing people outside of “at risk” demographics.

More than likely, the death rate is something less than the 0.6% that South Korea has found and the .04% that China has found outside of Hubei (i.e. when they instituted wide scale testing). This means that coronavirus is more deadly than the flu, however, it does not seem to be severely impacting the working age population or children. Theoretically, I would imagine that we could protect those who need it while allowing society to run business as usual — like they did in Singapore.

But we don’t do things this way.

Instead, we are instituting a scorched earth policy of shuttering everything and tanking the economy.

Right now, I’m looking at being grounded and put out of work for at least the next three months.

My wife got the call today. Her school just closed down. They are only going to pay her for the next five work days, then she has to take her paid time off, and then, when that’s gone, she won’t be paid.

Sure, we could all stay inside hiding from a virus that’s not going to have much of an impact on the bulk of society, but who’s going to pay the rent?

Elon Musk perhaps put it best:


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Filed under: Epidemics, New York City

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

6 comments… add one

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  • Mary Giordano March 15, 2020, 12:38 pm

    Yes it is good that the recovery rate is high because these people at risk and showing symptoms are getting the care to recover. The reason we are shutting down is to not spread it all at the same time so that the hospitals can provide care. If too many people have symptoms at the same time there isn’t enough hospital care ICU and ventilators to serve them all and some may die that shouldn’t have if they got the care. That is what people are missing, if we don’t have the medical resources and beds to address mass amounts of people more will die that shouldn’t have because people don’t want to stay in and slow the spread. It’s called flattening the curve so over time we can help all to recovery. If it were your family member that was the .04% that dies because there’s no more beds at the hospitals , you would care. The economy will recover the minute this is over.

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    • Wade Shepard March 15, 2020, 1:47 pm

      What about those 20,000 people who have already died of the flu this year that nobody cares about? Yes, people dying sucks but tanking the economy via “flattening the curve” is only going to lead to more death and misery.

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    • Wade Shepard March 15, 2020, 1:55 pm

      Maybe some people have enough money and health insurance to not be paid for three to even six months as the curve is lengthened but millions of others don’t. Perhaps we are risking far more people by not trying to get through with this virus as fast as possible. Most people in the USA have medical insurance tied to their jobs. If they lose their jobs they can’t receive adequate medical care … and this will be for way longer and hurt way more than a coronavirus outbreak.

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  • julie hamilton March 15, 2020, 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the Korea numbers. I was wondering about the comparison of data myself and you made it easy. I’m in Turkey where either the government is lying through its teeth or is actually doing a good job. Time will tell. Life goes on in my little town as normal. People don’t kiss hello so much but other than that, its life as normal…

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    • Wade Shepard March 15, 2020, 4:35 pm

      That’s good to hear! These situations do get bad from time to time but usually never as bad as the MSM makes out. Hopefully it rolls through fast and we can get on with the next hype!

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  • Jaymie March 16, 2020, 7:42 am

    Wade thank-you for your response to my comment asking where to go worldwide. You suggested Argentina and I was looking into Chile and Argentina so we are on the same page. Closing the schools over the sniffles is ridiculous and as of this morning here on the West Coast they are requiring the closing of bars and asking restaurants to reduce patrons allowed to eat in their dining rooms by the arbitrary 50%. This is a test to see if the populace will comply out of the fear they created over a “cold”, and they are going to push the economy over the edge. Marin Armstrong is saying the next quater will be a nightmare GDP wise. I dont know if you know about the law signed by Govenor Newsom
    here in California that made it illegal to accept and pay for work from freelancers in just about all industries except Attorneys naturally. It allows only a specific small number of
    submissions per each freelancer before you have to employ them. I want to say 6 submissions. This law was already decimating LA and people where already fleeing the state, this mandatory closing of bars etc. is going to finish the job. I am concerned that I have waited to long to get out without great harm to my financial position that will surely deteriorate as they initially started the push for closures to March 30th out here and are now pushing the staying closed dates to April 14th, with New York and California leading the pack of economic destruction. I am certain what they are doing is being done “under the color of law,” but when people are frightened all common sense goes out the window. The elderly we are being told are now dying are dying of age related disease and pneumonia as you pointed out but people cannot see through the smokes screens the media puts out everyday. All the stores here have lines for food and there is no toilet paper within this city. Good thing I lived in an old town in Southern Greece with the hole in the floor community toilets for a year and forgot what toilet paper looked like. I read your reply yesterday evening but could not find the post and answer here this evening to reply, so posting this separately.

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